Here in the United States we are struggling to fund research into food, fiber, fuel, flowers and forests. The National Agricultural Research Center, BARC, which should be in the lead for scientific work in food safety and production as well as systematics and pest management, invasive species including early dedection and rapid response, EDRR, suffers from chronic benign neglect. Invasive species issues have long been a core progrommatic area for USDA ARS under different names during the past hundred years. However, we continue to underfund these crtically important programs resulting in fewer and fewer programs and researchers while other countries, recognizing the challenges begin to focus and fund work in critical areas of scientific and technical inquiry into our environment, our climate, our fields, forests and our general quality of life.
"Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed ManagementMedia releaseThursday 8 May 2008SCIENTISTS WELCOME PLANS FOR NEW WEED RESEARCH CENTREAustralian weed researchers today welcomed the announcement by the federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Hon. Tony Burke, that the government would establish a new national weed research centre.CEO of the Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management (Weeds CRC), Dr Rachel McFadyen, said the announcement ended a long period of uncertainty about the future of research in this field.'The decision by the previous government in 2007 not to replace the Weeds CRC when its funding ended on 30 June this year was very controversial', Dr McFadyen said.Weed research delivers large benefits over long time frames across whole sectors - we have the evidence to show this', she said.'However, it is hard for particular companies to capture and sell the benefits of weed research in the market place, and especially hard to capture commercial returns for controlling weeds of the natural environment', Dr McFadyen said.'Yet everyone agrees the work is essential.'Dr McFadyen said it will be vital for any new weed research centre to have enough independence to give 'frank and fearless' advice to government.'The independent role of the Weeds CRC gave it great credibility in some important issues over the last seven years', she said.Dr McFadyen said the model of an independent research centre suggested in the Minister's statement was the right one.'It will be welcomed by all the major partners and state agencies. They know they need to work together and pool resources to make real progress with weed control, and this model will make that possible', she said.The immediate challenge will be to organise the new centre in a way that effectively targets national priorities in weed control, Dr McFadyen said.Further details on the proposed new centre are expected to emerge with the budget statement next week.More informationDr Rachel McFadyen, 0409 263 817Assoc. Prof. Chris Preston, Weeds CRC and University of Adelaide, 0438 892 362ImagesHigh resolution weed photos can be downloaded directly from http://www.weeds.crc.org.au/publications/media.html"